Many Christians are dismayed with the marketing onslaught of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The commercialism of the Christmas season weighs heavily on most of us. Yet Giving Tuesday is a breath of fresh air. This idea is simple. In place of giving someone a gift, make a donation in their name. This article talks about how your church can participate in this new shopping day.
Christmas and New Year's Day are over and you are back to work. Next Christmas seems like a distant dream. Yet I want you to consider what you will do better next year. Stop reading and add a reminder for August 1st. That is the day you will start putting together your church's newest donation program, Giving Tuesday.
Types of Gifts
I already explained that Giving Tuesday encourages people to give donations instead of gifts. The bigger push is for nonprofit groups to have good donation programs in place. There needs to be lots of gifting options to make this movement a success.
This is probably the friendliest option for any recipient. A gift going to help orphans should be well received regardless of where they are in their faith journey. In fact, this may be the perfect gift to give to a non-believer. Remember that you should have gift options that involve tangible connections. Do not simply offer an option to donate a gift of $50. Instead, the option can be feeding a family for a month, or six trips to see the local doctor. Let your contributors know what they are giving to.
These gifts are more likely to connect with believers, as they directly tie to spreading the Gospel. First, be sure to follow the examples I mentioned for missions. It is not a $20 donation to the youth ministry. It is a Vacation Bible School lunch for an underprivileged child in your community. The other word of caution is to have a wide variety of ministry gifts. You want to cover outreach ministries as well as ones that cater to existing members. Plus you can provide a more generic gift as simply buying a Bible for someone in need.
Many churches own a building, and all use various equipment. If you have any doubts, talk to your volunteers and staff. This includes you dear reader. You can offer a gift that pays for one month of running your website server. Do not forget about music, bulletins, decorations, and communion supplies. Also consider maintaining some of your church's most popular features. Stained glass murals need cleaning and organs need tuned. Just look around your church. You can find different gifts to fit into any price range.
If people are going to use this in place of a gift, you should provide some way for them to give that gift. The big point with this is to automate as much as possible. But offer both analog and digital gifts. Some buyers may just want to print out a certificate. Others will want to send an email. Another option is to provide a small physical gift as well. A physical card to mail would be great. A church branded Christmas tree ornament is another option. It reminds them of the donation, plus it is free advertising on their tree!
If you did not heed my advice earlier, create a calendar event for Monday August 1st, 2016. This should be your first planning meeting for starting this new campaign. As I outlined above, determine a wide variety of gifts for your members to buy. Educate your pastors so they can speak to the intent behind this campaign. Create content to describe what each gift will support. Work with your credit card processor to accomodate these new orders. If you are also giving small physical gifts, plan for keeping stock and handing out or shipping those items. Finally, pray over your decisions. Your church is entering into a fairly new trend. Do so with the Spirit's guidance and make a positive impact for the Gospel.
This article was inspired by the ChurchMag podcast - Ep 82 Black Friday Edition 2015
Photo courtesy of Ann-Kathrin Rehse